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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Apparel industry outsourcing costs garment workers’ lives in Bangladesh | Scott Nova

Category : Business

Until western consumers make safety standards an issue for the big clothing brands, factory fires will continue to take lives

The fire that killed 112 workers in a factory producing for Walmart, Sears, Disney and other apparel corporations was the deadliest in the history of Bangladesh, but it was one in a long series of such fires and it will not be the last. The economic logic of the apparel industry, driven by the insatiable hunger of western apparel companies for cheap clothes, guarantees that many more workers will die.

In the last two years, fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan have taken the lives of nearly 500 apparel workers, at plants producing for Gap, H&M, JC Penney, Target, Abercrombie & Fitch, the German retailer KiK and many others.

These deaths are preventable. In the wake of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist fire, which killed 146 workers in Manhattan in 1911, a labor reform movement transformed the sweatshop-dominated US apparel industry into one defined by safe workplaces, middle-class wages and strong unions. The industry has known for more than 100 years how to operate an apparel factory safely, yet today these lessons are routinely ignored.

The key to understanding why apparel workers’ lives are treated so cavalierly today is to ask why corporations are flocking to countries like Bangladesh in the first place. Bangladesh is now the world’s second-largest apparel producer. It did not attain that status by achieving high levels of productivity, or a strong transportation infrastructure; it got there by being the rock-bottom cheapest place to make clothing.

This derives from three factors: the industry’s lowest wages (a minimum apparel wage of 18 cents an hour), ruthless suppression of unions, and a breathtaking disregard for worker safety. The industry in Bangladesh has been handsomely rewarded for its costcutting achievements, with an ever-rising flood of business from western brands, moderated only by the global recession. And local factory owners understand that if they do not continue to offer the lowest possible prices, those brands will be quick to leave.

Leading apparel companies have accomplished a form of time travel: they have recreated 1911 working conditions in 2012. Unconstrained by regulation, apparel producers in 1911 New York did not waste money on niceties like workplace safety. Neither do their counterparts today in South Asia. By outsourcing their production, US corporations have escaped the regulatory strictures won by unions and labor rights advocates after the Triangle fire and have turned back the clock on a century of workplace reform.

As news emerged of the horror at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh, the brands and retailers producing at the facility predictably sought to distance themselves. Unable to deny their relationship to the factory – because of photographs taken by courageous local activists that proved their garments were found inside the building – Walmart and Sears resorted to the claim that their clothes were being made there without their knowledge. They put the blame on local contractors who purportedly subcontracted their orders to Tazreen against the companies’ wishes.

Walmart, a company whose foundational corporate principle is cost reduction through micromanagement of the supply chain, was reduced to asserting that it has so little control of its supply chain that it doesn’t know which factories in Bangladesh are making its clothes. The brands and retailers also insisted that the unsafe conditions that killed the workers at Tazreen Fashion existed despite their ostensibly robust efforts to ensure safe and responsible labor practices by their suppliers. Walmart touts its “work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh.”

Indeed, virtually every major apparel company claims to be policing its suppliers’ labor practices through aggressive inspections. Yet every one of the factories where fires killed workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan in the last two years had been subject to numerous such inspections. The factory where 289 workers were killed in Pakistan this September had received, just weeks before the fire, a clean bill of health under an inspection system called SA-8000. A plant in Bangladesh that burned in 2010 had been inspected by Gap and other customers, but those companies failed to correct the safety hazards that eventually killed 29 workers. The Tazreen factory was an obvious fire trap, yet none of the audits conducted by Walmart (pdf) and other buyers brought about any apparent change.

All the companies concerned publish official policy statements on these issues – Walmart, Gap, Sears, Disney, Target, Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, JC Penney, and KiK (pdf) – but the problem is straightforward: it costs more to produce under good working conditions than bad. While brands and retailers claim to be concerned about protecting the rights and safety of the workers who make their clothes, they demand prices from their suppliers that virtually guarantee that those goals will be ignored. Josh Green, chief executive of Panjiva, a leading supplier of supply chain data to the apparel industry, recently described the “relentless pressure” that these companies “put on their suppliers to deliver lower and lower prices”, calling that pressure “a key reason why you see factories cutting corners”.

As long as that price pressure continues, more deadly fires are inevitable.

It would not cost brands and retailers much to make apparel factories safe and pay workers decently: labor costs are a small percentage of the final retail price of their garments. Any impact of safety reforms on prices paid by consumers would be modest.

But no one should expect any moral epiphanies in the boardrooms of leading apparel corporations. At a fire safety meeting last year in Bangladesh, Walmart and Gap dismissed the idea that they should pay higher prices to fund the renovation of dangerous factories. These companies will pay reasonable prices to factories and ensure worker safety only when they are convinced that early 20th-century working conditions are unacceptable to 21st-century customers.

One ray of hope is the decision of PVH Corporation, the owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, to make a series of binding fire safety commitments in an agreement signed this March (pdf) with Bangladeshi and international unions and labor rights organizations. The agreement requires PVH to pay prices to suppliers sufficient to make it possible for them to operate safely and to end business with any supplier that refuses to do so. The German retailer Tchibo has also signed on.

If the biggest retailers, like Walmart, Gap and H&M, would make the same binding commitments, then apparel workers in places like Bangladesh and Pakistan would not have to take their lives into their hands when they go to work.

Wal-Mart fights back on Black Friday strike

Category : Business

Wal-Mart files a complaint with federal labor agency accusing a union of disrupting business activity, days before Wal-Mart employees plan a Black Friday walkout.

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VIDEO: US jobless rate in surprise fall

Category : Business, World News

The US unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest rate since January 2009, figures from the Department of Labor have shown.

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US jobless rate in surprise fall

Category : World News

The US unemployment rate fell last month, figures from the Department of Labor show, surprising analysts who had been expecting a small rise.

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Stocks: Job market to steal the show

Category : Business

With much economic data on tap this week, reports on the labor market take center stage.

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Rising U.S. Exports — Plus Reshoring — Could Help Create up to 5 Million Jobs by 2020

Category : Stocks

U.S.-Based Manufacturers Stand to Capture 2 to 7 Percent of Western European and Japanese Exports Due to Lower Labor and Energy Costs, BCG Research Finds; ‘The U.S. Is Becoming One of the Lowest-Cost Producers of the Developed World’

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On the surface, the Fed’s QE3 announcement today may appear to be a repeat of what it’s done in earlier rounds, but it’s not, says CNBC’s John Carney. In a a stark departure from past practices, the policy is an open-ended expansion with no limit on…

Category : Stocks

On the surface, the Fed’s QE3 announcement today may appear to be a repeat of what it’s done in earlier rounds, but it’s not, says CNBC’s John Carney. In a a stark departure from past practices, the policy is an open-ended expansion with no limit on duration, and it won’t go away until the labor market improves. 7 comments!

See the rest here: On the surface, the Fed’s QE3 announcement today may appear to be a repeat of what it’s done in earlier rounds, but it’s not, says CNBC’s John Carney. In a a stark departure from past practices, the policy is an open-ended expansion with no limit on…

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Weak jobs rate in Michigan may be ‘the new normal’ – Detroit Free Press

Category : Stocks


Globe and Mail
Weak jobs rate in Michigan may be 'the new normal'
Detroit Free Press
Labor Day means more than a chance to relax and eat hot dogs. It's also a time to reflect on the challenges facing the American worker. Those challenges range from the profound to the prosaic: stubbornly high unemployment, bad bosses, lousy summer jobs
Looking back: Labor Day, 1894Albany Times Union
Unions' political donations falling as their power fadesBoston Globe
Wage gap may revive the labor movementBoston Herald
Duluth News Tribune

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US economy added 163,000 jobs in July as Obama handed major election boost

Category : Business

Nonfarm payroll figures are the highest in five months but were not enough to bring down 8.3% unemployment rate

The US added 163,000 new jobs in July, ahead of economists’ expectations and offering some relief for President Barack Obama as the economy emerges as the key battleground of the 2012 election.

Private companies added 172,000 jobs last month, while governments shed 9,000 positions. Most economists had expected the latest nonfarm payroll figure to be around 95,000. The US added just 64,000 jobs in June.

While the number was far better than expected it was not enough to bring down the unemployment rate, which edged up to 8.3%. That number is derived from a separate survey and economists said it tends to be volatile but the rise was immediately seized upon by Obama’s opponents.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the figures “a hammer blow to struggling middle-class families”.

“President Obama doesn’t have a plan and believes that the private sector is ‘doing fine’. Obviously, that is not the case. We’ve now gone 42 consecutive months with the unemployment rate above 8%. Middle-class Americans deserve better, and I believe America can do better,” he said in a statement.

The labor department said that since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, about the same as the average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011.

The labor market has slowed sharply after strong gains of over 200,000 a month in the winter, spelling trouble for Obama ahead of the November 6 election.

Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services, had forecast a rise of 125,000 ahead of the labor department’s release and said he was pleasantly surprised by the news. “This is the best month for the private sector since February. There were big gains in manufacturing, which is always good to see, and in leisure and hospitality.”

Faucher said the slight rise in unemployment was disappointing but said the household survey, from which the number is derived, was volatile. “One month’s figure doesn’t tell us much but it is something we will have to watch,” he said.

Despite the good news on numbers, the headline unemployment rate presents Obama with a problem. “Two years after Obama admin said ‘Welcome to the recovery,’ unemployment still above 8%,” Republican house speaker John Boehner said via Twitter. “This month’s jobs numbers underscore the failure of the Obama Administration’s policies,” tweeted Eric Cantor, Republican leader.

A recent Ipsos/Thomson Reuters poll showed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ahead of President Barack Obama on the economy with 36% of registered voters believing he has a better plan compared to 31% who had faith in Obama’s policies.

The closely watched employment report comes two days after the Federal Reserve said the economy had “decelerated somewhat” over the first half of the year sent and signaled it would step in if the faltering recovery does not pick up.

Weak job growth in recent months has been compounded with other signs that the US recovery is faltering.

The commerce department said earlier this month that growth in US gross domestic product (GDP) had slowed to 1.5% in the second quarter, down from 2% in the prior three months, and 4.1% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Buffeted by competition and falling steel prices, ArcelorMittal (MT) has told the USW union that it wants to slash wages by 36% and scrap retiree health care for employees hired after Sept. 1, the day after an existing labor contract expires, the WSJ…

Category : Stocks, World News

Buffeted by competition and falling steel prices, ArcelorMittal (MT) has told the USW union that it wants to slash wages by 36% and scrap retiree health care for employees hired after Sept. 1, the day after an existing labor contract expires, the WSJ reports. U.S. Steel (X) is also in a tricky situation as healthcare and pension costs rise. (See also AK Steel) 1 comment!

Read this article: Buffeted by competition and falling steel prices, ArcelorMittal (MT) has told the USW union that it wants to slash wages by 36% and scrap retiree health care for employees hired after Sept. 1, the day after an existing labor contract expires, the WSJ…

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